"How to Get Away With Murder" is just as provocative and sinful as its name suggests.
The TV series on ABC — often dubbed "HTGAWM" by fans — follows powerhouse lawyer Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her crew of cutthroat Philadelphia law students. Its story lines are laced with twists, turns, and a good amount of fake blood.
Hidden in the scandalous depths of each episode, however, is an often overlooked reality: "HTGAWM" is a significant show.
It boasts a diverse cast led by the award-winning Davis, who's one of few women of color leading a prime-time series.
"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis said on stage last year at the Emmys, quoting Harriet Tubman while accepting her award for best actress in a drama series.
She's the first black woman ever to win that category.
But the show's diversity extends far beyond Davis. And the power of that inclusiveness surfaced in a recent fan letter to actor Jack Falahee.
The show's ensemble features two gay characters, Connor — played by Falahee — and Oliver — played by Conrad Ricamora.
In an Instagram post from Oct. 13, 2016, Falahee shared a "really lovely letter" sent to him from a fan around National Coming Out Day, earlier in the week.
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of seeing how many of my LGBTQ friends and fans were celebrating on Coming Out Day. Some folks told the story of how they came out. Some stories were sad, some were joyous. All of their stories were courageous and beautiful. A fan, who will remain anonymous to protect their identity, sent me a really lovely letter that included this passage about how seeing Connor and Oliver on screen has helped them navigate their coming out. It really resonated with me. I wanted to take this moment to thank that person publicly, but also to thank all of you. Knowing that Connor and Oliver have, in a small way, helped some of you find a voice is truly humbling to hear. And it makes me really happy. So, thank you. If you're looking for some more info on navigating your own coming out, I encourage you to check out "Coming Out As You" at thetrevorproject.org
A photo posted by Jack Falahee (@jackfalahee) on
A portion of the letter (emphasis added):
"I wanted to thank you for the way you are representing a openly gay character in such a huge show. Connor became a role model to me since he never sees his sexual orientation as a flaw and instead is open and proud of it. I think Connor's relationship to Oliver shows a lot of people around the globe that a same-sex relationship can be as loving and complicated — there is no difference. This gave me so much hope and strength because I did no longer feel there is anything wrong with me. After watching Connor and Oliver developing as a couple I gained confidence and felt a lot better about myself. I even started to tell my family and friends that I am gay."
For Falahee, the letter truly tugged at the heartstrings.
"Knowing that Connor and Oliver have, in a small way, helped some of you find a voice is truly humbling to hear," he wrote in the caption. "And it makes me really happy. So, thank you."
"Although it still was a scary thing to do, I don't think I ever would have been brave enough to [come out as gay] if it was not for you and the way you play Connor," Falahee's fan wrote. "So, although I unfortunately do not know you personally, I feel like I owe you a lot."
It's critical that we see some version of ourselves on our TV screens because it helps empower us to be who we are.
When South Asian actor Aziz Ansari blasted through barriers to create his own hit TV series, "Master of None," it mattered. When Sam Esmail, creator of "Mr. Robot," thanked his family on stage at the Golden Globes by simply saying "shukran" ("thank you" in Arabic), it mattered.
And when a young Leslie Jones discovered Whoopi Goldberg, it mattered.
"The day I saw Whoopi Goldberg on television, I cried so hard," Jones said on "The View" in July 2016. "Because I kept looking at my daddy going, 'Oh my god! There's somebody on TV who looks like me! She looks like me! Daddy! I can be on TV. I can be on TV. '"
"HTGAWM" fans probably aren't learning how, exactly, they can get away with murder. But they are learning how to be themselves.
And I think we can all agree that's a much better takeaway.